The Royal Literary Fund has recorded a mini -podcast with me on how I write – with a black coffee, and some dark chocolate and then I begin!
‘Writing a novel feels like being an ultra-marathon runner, it’s going to be a gruelling slog to reach 90,000 words and I will be unable to pause, to breathe properly, to take in the view until then.’
You can listen here:
What do you think? Let me know how you write.
TEN TIPS FOR CUTTING OUT SUGAR – You know how when you really want some chocolate, or a stack of biscuits, the lifestyle columnists’ advice is to, ‘go for a walk,’ ‘drink a glass of water’ or ‘distract yourself’? Frankly, if you want a piece of chocolate, or maybe the whole bar, that kind of notion just isn’t going to cut it. So I thought I’d share with you my top ten tips for cutting down on eating sugar.
It’s more than a decade since I first started researching sugar for my book, ‘Sugar: The Grass that Changed the World’. I realised back then that I needed to eat less sugar – but it’s an uphill task (‘give it 20 min, then see if you still want that chocolate.’ Er, yes.). What’s going to work longterm is retraining your tastebuds so I’m going to share with you some of the things that worked for me.
SEEDS OF CHANGE – Many of our most beautiful plants have come from far-flung lands, brought to us by intrepid Victorian explorers. It was their dare-devil stories that inspired me to write my third novel, The Naked Name of Love, about a Jesuit priest in pursuit of a rare lily in Outer Mongolia.
But I never considered that many of our most brilliant botanical finds made their way here in the hulls of ships as ballast. Ballast – the mud used to weigh down trading vessels when they docked – was picked up from countries all over the world and then dumped near Bristol’s Floating Harbour. And so we ended up with seeds from Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean sprouting here in the south-west. Artist, Maria Thereza Alves, has created a a floral tribute to our city’s trading history: on an old concrete barge floating off Castle Park in the heart of the city, she’s planted seeds that reflect the global routes travelled by Bristol merchants.
SUGAR: THE BOOK I WISH HAD CHANGED THE WORLD – There is something sweet and sickly in the air.
It’s ten years since my book on sugar, Sugar: The Grass that Changed the World, was published. Next week I’ve been asked to open a conference at Bristol University on sugar – covering many of the topics I wrote about, from the evolution of sugar cane through to its effect on our health – although I’m expecting the academics at Bristol, a decade since I researched the subject, to have far more insightful things to say.